Would "Roseanne" have still become a sitcom hit if it had been called "Life and Stuff" instead? Could you imagine "Archie Justice" as the name of the lead character in "All in the Family"? And would millions still have tuned in to watch the Central Perk gang if "Facts of Life" star Nancy McKeon had become one of the "Friends"?
In Hollywood, changes in casting, characters and show names are just part of the business, but for fans, these switches and "almost was" moments provide a fascinating source of trivia. Click through to learn about some surprising TV switch-ups and learn more about your favorite TV shows on "Best in TV," now online here.
Just because you're already famous doesn't mean you're guaranteed a role in a new sitcom...and just because you lose out on a role it doesn't mean you won't become famous later, as a number of actors and actresses know all too well -- particularly those involved in the 90s' hit "Friends."
TV executives wanted to see "Facts of Life" alum Nancy McKeon play Monica on NBC's "Friends," but Courtney Cox was ultimately chosen instead. Lisa Kudrow was initially hired to play the role of Roz on the "Cheers" spinoff "Frasier," but later was dropped in favor of Peri Gilpin. Kudrow later found blockbuster success on "Friends" as Phoebe alongside Courtney Cox's Monica. David Schwimmer was cast to play Monica's brother, Ross, but Eric McCormack had auditioned for the part as well. McCormack went on to play the lead role of "Will" on the sitcom "Will and Grace."
Other casting curveballs include:
Carrie Bradshaw: Dana Delaney turned down the role of Carrie Bradshaw on HBO's "Sex and the City." The part brought stardom to Sarah Jessica Parker.
D.J. Conner: On ABC's "Roseanne," Roseanne Conner's youngest child, D.J., was originally played by Sal Barone before the role was handed off to Michael Fishman.
Buffy Summers: Sarah Michelle Gellar initially auditioned for the supporting role of cheerleader Cordelia on the cult hit "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," but was ultimately cast in the title role.
Lieutenant Columbo: Bing Crosby was offered the title role on "Columbo," but turned it down, leaving the way open for Peter Falk.
Frasier Crane: The role of Frasier Crane on "Cheers" was originally offered to -- and rejected by -- John Lithgow before Kelsey Grammer took on the part of the pompous psychiatrist and stuck with it on "Frasier."
|The Name Game|
Picking a name for a baby isn't easy, and neither is picking one for a fictional character. On the CBS classic "M*A*S*H," as former staffer Ken Levine writes on his blog, writers often cribbed names from professional baseball team rosters.
The name of Kramer on "Seinfeld" was also inspired by a real name -- just as the character was inspired by a real person. To avoid drawing the ire of the real Kramer, the character was initially named Kessler in the show's pilot, according to the book "Top of the Rock," by former NBC entertainment president Warren Littlefield. After an arrangement was reached with the real Kramer, producers used the name for the show.
Other character names that went by the wayside include:
Mash: While the writers of "M*A*S*H" had their own naming problems, the name Mash was almost used as the nickname of Henry Winkler's impeccably cool character on ABC's "Happy Days." Instead, Winkler's alter ego was famously dubbed "The Fonz."
Larry Lopez: Would fans of the iconic "I Love Lucy" have tuned in week after week to watch the adventures of Lucy and Ricky if Desi Arnaz's character had been named "Larry Lopez" instead? It almost happened.
Archie Justice: The first name stayed the same, but when "All in the Family" aired on CBS, it was Archie Bunker, not Archie Justice, who raised eyebrows as the sitcom's bigoted but devoted husband and father, played by Carroll O'Connor.
Frasier Nye: Before he was Crane, he was Nye. "I remember saying 'Nye doesn't sound quite right to me,' and they came up with Crane," Kelsey Grammer said in "Top of the Rock."
|The Name Game, Show Title Edition|
It was a sitcom built around a rising star, the stand-up comic Roseanne Barr, but at first, ABC's "Roseanne" was called "Life and Stuff." The initial name wasn't completely forgotten -- it was used as the name of the series' first episode. Check out some other show names that didn't quite make the cut below.
"The Secret Lives of Housewives" was almost the name of "Desperate Housewives."
"Six of One" became "Friends."
"Seinfeld Chronicles" was shortened to "Seinfeld."
"These Friends of Mine" was changed to "Ellen."
"Alley Cats" became "Charlie's Angels."
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